5 Ways Santa Barbara Bowl is Protecting the Environment

5 Ways Santa Barbara Bowl is Protecting the Environment


The Santa Barbara Bowl delivers incredible music events in a beautiful venue to the greater Santa Barbara area. The venue is supported by the Santa Barbara Bowl Foundation, which has two primary goals outside of live events: educational outreach and sustainability. Through its Greening the Bowl program, the foundation has had a number of notable accomplishments over the years, including recognition as the first carbon-neutral outdoor venue in the United States.

The foundation provides for the protection of 17 acres of open space, which allows this carbon offsetting to occur. The venue has also striven to reduce energy and water consumption, mitigate traffic, minimize waste, and use solar energy whenever possible. Recently, for the third consecutive year, Better World Energy has donated wind-generated Renewable Energy Certificates to the Santa Barbara Bowl, which also help to offset the energy consumed by the venue. The total donation has risen to 673 megawatt-hours of wind-generated energy, which is equivalent to removing more than 100 vehicles from the road; a major benefit to energy independence in Santa Barbara.

Protecting the California Landscape

Dedicated to being a steward of the land, the Santa Barbara Bowl remains keenly aware of the ecological impact that it has on surrounding areas. When renovating patches of land, the foundation provides for the planting of species native to California. These drought-resistant plants are supported by low-flow irrigation, which reduces water usage. In addition, the venue employs a professional arborist who cares for the thousands of Pacific Oak trees surrounding the Bowl. The arborist monitors the trees to prevent any degradation of important habitat for Great Horned Owls, deer, lizards, falcons, hawks, salamanders and more. The foundation recognizes that the Bowl is its own microenvironment and takes responsibility for the ecological health of the land.

Reducing the Impact of Transportation

The Santa Barbara Bowl encourages individuals to take sustainable forms of transportation to the venue. While carpooling and public transportation can cut down on emissions from vehicles, bicycles eliminate any concern about emissions altogether. The venue has teamed with the Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition to offer complimentary bicycle valet parking at a convenient location right in front of the Bowl. In addition to reducing pollution, this initiative has also significantly limited the amount of traffic and congestion associated with transportation to shows.

Keeping Trash out of Local Landfills

California has a mandate that all events divert at least half of their waste away from landfills. The Santa Barbara Bowl had already undertaken diversion projects prior to this mandate, and it continues to employ an aggressive post-event sorting process that includes setting aside items for composting and recycling. Less than 30 percent of waste generated at the venue goes to area landfills, and the foundation aims to reduce this figure to less than 10 percent. Part of the initiative to reduce waste involves educating both artists and concertgoers, both of whom can take this knowledge back into the community to make an even greater impact.

Reducing Energy Usage Through Efficient Lighting

In an effort to reduce energy usage, the Santa Barbara Bowl Foundation undertook a major research project to identify and replace inefficient light fixtures. The measure, which saved more than 60 percent per fixture, is part of an ongoing process that will reduce energy needs by thousands of kilowatts per hour. The project began in 2010, when the Bowl installed low-watt bulbs, such as compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs. Last year, the venue pushed the envelope even further with a complete overhaul project. With support from the community, ultra-low wattage LED fixtures replaced all incandescent lamps. The project involved replacing more than 80 step lights, 8 work-light fixtures used on-stage after shows, 8 road lights, and several other individual fixtures. By using warm-temperature Kelvin rating lights, the venue has maintained aesthetics while significantly limiting energy usage.

Harnessing Solar Energy Directly On Site

Through a partnership with Planet Solar, the top solar installer in Santa Barbara, the Bowl had its first phase of solar panels installed to harness green energy directly. The panels are located on top of SportWorld, otherwise known as the Spotlight Building, and they generate nearly enough energy to power the annual number of concerts that occur at the Bowl. In the near future, the foundation and Plant Solar hope to install a second system that will also generate 12 kilowatts per hour of energy on top of the Scranton Overlook building. So far, solar energy generation has reduced energy-related carbon dioxide emission by more than 491,000 pounds.

Moving forward, the Santa Barbara Bowl plans to continue with these initiatives while seeking out new ways of reducing its carbon footprint. The venue is proud to have the honor of being the nation’s first outdoor carbon-neutral event destination. With partners like Better World Energy, Planet Solar, and Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition, the foundation can continue to set goals that push the boundaries and define a new standard in environmental stewardship for other outdoor venues around the nation.

Santa Barbara Bowl – Image courtesy Mark Krynsky on Flickr